This will be a shorter post that is both a continuation of a past topic I wrote about here and a bit of thinking out loud.
In 1985 Alison Bechdel proposed a simple test for gender bias in movies. Does the movie have 1) at least two women in it who 2) talk to each other about 3) something besides a man. Recently we have seen the Mako Mori Test which was created because the movie Pacific Rim failed the Bechdel Test but did a lot of other things right and the titular character became a favorite among women.
In the past I've written about story possibilities left unexplored because of a narrow gender focus ("The Patriarchy of Crime Fiction") today I want to talk about a specific version of this and, in the spirit of the above named tests, give it a name. I propose that some crime stories fall victim to The Connie Corleone effect.
The Connie Corleone effect is when a female character is prevented from running a criminal organization because of inherent sexism in the organization itself, and the culture surrounding it, even though she is equally or more qualified then her male counter parts.
The first, obviously, is Connie Corleone. Connie's story arc is one of the more interesting ones in a story filled with interesting arcs. She eventually settles into the role of adviser to the head of the family (her brother) and paves the way for the next head of the family (another brother's illegitimate son). I have to wonder about the story possibilities if she was given control of the family instead of a behind the scenes position of intrigue and counsel. Given how much her life and her character was forged directly by the family business it could have been incredibly rewarding fiction to see her take that position.
Another prominent example of the Connie Corleone effect is in The Wire. After Avon goes to jail, and Stringer is trying to hold the organization together, I couldn't help but wonder about Avon's sister, Brianna Barksdale, taking over. She's got great knowledge of the game, knows about the NY connections, and has a strong streak of putting the business first that runs through her. She does, in many respects, come closer to taking over then Connie does, becoming in effect a co-runner of the business with Stringer Bell. But it's still a great "what if" game to imagine if she took over fully.
At the very least these two women were capable of taking over, but were never fully given the chance to do so. In fact, the reins of power were handed over to someone either not in the family or partially in the family rather then give them to the women.
What I'm arguing here is the same as what I argued over a year ago, that authors should examine all narrative possibilities. Plus I'm just thinking out loud.